Holy Family Roman Catholic Church
1080 W. Roosevelt Rd.
Near West Side
Dillenburg & Zucher and John M. Van Osdel, 1860
Jesuit priest Father Arnold Damen, S.J., began construction of Holy Family Church in the midst of the Financial Panic of 1857, and the Gothic edifice was completed three years later under the supervision of architect John Van Osdel. The pews were built on the site, and the church’s clerestory windows contain the oldest stained glass in Chicago. Anton Buscher’s 1865 main altar, originally illuminated by gas jets, was electrified by incandescent lights in 1899. Louis Wisner, a German Lutheran, carved the communion railing in 1866, and Charles-Olivier Dauphin of Montreal created the organ case with its life-size figures holding musical instruments. In the east transept of the church are the “seven lights” Fr. Damen pledged to keep burning if Holy Family was spared destruction in the Great Fire of 1871. In 1990, parishioners saved the church from the wrecking ball, and in 1993 a fire was narrowly prevented from spreading to the nave--the church has withstood well over a century of threats.